Manzone h read64067_action_researchpaperfinaldraft

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Manzone h read64067_action_researchpaperfinaldraft

  1. 1. LITERATURE CIRCLES 1 The Impact of Literature Circles on Reading Comprehension and Student Interest Hilary A. Manzone East Carolina University
  2. 2. LITERATURE CIRCLES 2 AbstractThe purpose of this study was to identify if the use of literature circles in a fourth gradeclassroom had an impact on student reading comprehension and student interest in reading. Thesample included 48 fourth grade students ranging from ages 9-10. The control group received thetraditional self-selected reading instruction and conferencing while the intervention groupreceived literature circle instruction. Pre and posttest mean scores and analysis of varianceindicated no significant difference in vocabulary acquisition (p=0.929 for posttest and p= 0.596for pretest scores) or comprehension scores (p=0.087 for posttest scores and p=0.374 for pretestscores) between traditional vocabulary instruction and interactive vocabulary instruction.Although the results showed no significant difference, qualitative data is available to support thisstudy.
  3. 3. LITERATURE CIRCLES 3 The Impact of Literature Circles on Reading Comprehension and Student Interest Every student should have access and exposure to literacy to become productive citizensof society. Unfortunately, not all students learn to read at the same rate and at the same time.Literacy offers individuals an opportunity for better careers, education, and social lives(McCormik&Zutell, 2011). Individualized instruction and flexible grouping have becomeimportant strategies for teachers to use to help meet the needs of struggling students (Gambrell,Morrow, & Pressley, 2007). When implemented properly, literature circles provide opportunities for students to workin a flexible grouping atmosphere while being engaged. Student interest in literature helpspromote success in reading comprehension. The purpose of this paper was to describe an actionresearch project that utilizes quasi-experimental design methods to investigate the use ofliterature circle groups during a balanced literacy block while noting the impact literature circleshave on student interest and reading comprehension. A literature review that supports this line ofinquiry follows. Literature Review To prepare students to become productive and knowledgeable citizens of the future,teachers need to provide students with the skills and strategies needed to become successfulreaders and writers. Literacy education should include authentic and genuine research-basedpractice in which students are engaged. When meaningful activities are provided during literacyinstruction, students are more apt to stay engaged and be willing to take part in learning(Gambrell, Morrow, & Pressley, 2007). Literature circles are one example of an effectiveresearch-based activity that has the potential to promote student interest and achievement. The
  4. 4. LITERATURE CIRCLES 4purpose of this literature review is to describe research for the following research question: Doesthe use of literature circles in a fourth grade balanced literacy classroom improve student interestin reading and reading comprehension?Defining Literature Circles Daniels (1994) defines literature circles as small discussion groups in which all membershave chosen to read the same text. During school or outside of the classroom, students read adetermined portion of the text while taking on a specific responsibility for the next groupdiscussion. For each session, students come prepared with notes related to their reading to helpthem perform well on their literature circle job. The literature circle jobs are rotated throughoutthe meetings. Extension activities can be built in following the completion of a book. Lastly,when students become fluent with group discussions during literature circles, jobs may or maynot be eliminated based on preference (Daniels, 1994). During literature circles, students arerequired to perform many tasks that hold them accountable for their own reading. Students maybe reading aloud or with a partner, writing their role assignment, or discussing questions oropinions about the book they are currently reading (Farris, Nelson, &LAllier, 2007). In addition, “literature circles are student-centered dialogues generated from individualshaving previously read and reflected upon self-selected texts” (Long & Gove, 2003, p.352). Thepurpose of literature circles is to allow students to work comfortably in a social atmospherewhile practicing skills and reading works of literature (Farris, Nelson, &LAllier, 2007). Literature circles are similar to book clubs where students are reading a similar book andfacilitating their own conversations. Casey (2008) suggests, however, that literature circles aremore specific to the literature roles students perform. For example, students may have the task ofbeing the “Artful Artist, Word Wizard, Discussion Leader, Dramatic Reenactor, Story Elements
  5. 5. LITERATURE CIRCLES 5Correspondent, and Personal Connector” (Stien&Beed, 2004, p. 512). Each role requires studentsto think more critically about the literature in an engaging and creative way. Roles may bechanged periodically as the group progresses and discussions take place after the readingassignment and written activity are completed.Motivation and Student Interest Motivation is a key component that separates “superficial and shallow reading” from“deep and internalized” reading (Gambrell, Morrow, & Pressley, 2007, p.19). Students need thedrive to participate and focus on their learning. Motivation is one tool that can help studentsbecome more interested and devoted to reading. Burns (1998) found that student choice, mixed ability groups, interaction amongststudents, and time provided to complete literature circle roles led to student motivation whichhad a positive effect on overall academic achievement. Yet, there were several factors Burnsused to determine what a successful literature circle should include. For example, she based thebooks around a common theme based on the student’s background to keep students focused andexcited. She also gave students choice in book selection which in turn created motivation. Lastly,the time given for social interaction allowed for deeper levels of conversation resulting in highercomprehension. Casey (2008) conducted a study on the use of learning groups based on common studentinterests in a middle school classroom. The purpose of the study was to pique interest andstudent engagement. Casey pointed out that student interest in reading results from animprovement in literacy development. An increase of literacy development occurred with thestruggling readers who were strategically placed in learning groups. Casey (2008) found that
  6. 6. LITERATURE CIRCLES 6learning groups helped disengaged students become engaged and motivated to read when theirinterests and needs were met. Similar to literature circles, Gambrell et al. (2007) stated that using flexible groupingscan spike student interests, meet individual learning preferences, and allow students to feelcomfortable in a familiar social setting while meeting their academic needs at the same time. Toimplement flexible grouping successfully, teachers need to provide structure and expectations.Literature circles can be organized into a flexible group format where students can select theirbook of choice. Based on research, using literature circles during a balanced literacy block has proveneffective. Day and Ainley (2008) focused their research on English Language Learners in anelementary classroom. The teacher who participated in this study was skeptical about theproductivity of literature circles at the beginning. Towards the end of the research, she slowlybecame a believer in and user of literature circles. She found them to increase studentproductivity and motivation in reading. This study proved literature circles to be effective,especially with English Language Learners. Literature Circles can be a useful tool, even with thelittle amount of time in a school day. With the inclusion of literature circles groups in a balancedliteracy classroom, students will be more likely to participate based on an increase in motivationof reading a text they were able to choose.Critical Thinking Skills and Literature Circles Higher level thinking occurs when students are challenged by not only their teachers, butalso by their peers. They are more likely to challenge one another when the text is meaningfuland all students are participating (Farris, Nelson, &LAllier, 2007).
  7. 7. LITERATURE CIRCLES 7 Long and Gove (2003) found that an improvement in critical thinking skills was evidentthe first day literature circles were implemented in the classroom. In addition, there was anincrease in student interest since the literature chosen was relevant to the students’ lives. Interestin literature helped support their participation and collaboration during literature circles resultingin more high level literature discussions. Critical thinking is a skill that requires time andpractice. Long and Gove (2003) suggested incorporating teacher involvement during literaturecircles to aid students in thinking critically by modeling and encouraging higher level ofthinking. McCall (2010) conducted a study on the integration of social studies into literaturecircles. The research used trade books encompassing a common social studies theme that pre-service teachers used to discuss in their literature circles. Although the participants were notstudents, the research findings were quite comparable to research conducted on student literaturecircles. The author found that social studies trade books can offer content that focused on otherimportant social studies issues that textbooks do not always include. In addition, theincorporation of literature circles allowed participants to reach a deeper level of thinking whilereading the text and when provided a sufficient amount of discussion time. Day and Ainley (2008) noticed that students were unaware that they were developing ahigher level of thinking during literature discussions. The simple allotment of time provided forstudents to have deeper conversation about a text evidenced by this study proves to be effective.Using literature circles provide opportunities for teachers to increase their student’s criticalthinking skills and can impact their interest in reading and comprehension.Scaffolding and Literacy Skills Promoting Overall Reading Achievement
  8. 8. LITERATURE CIRCLES 8 According to Gambrell et al. (2007), scaffolding instruction for the different componentsof literacy such as comprehension and fluency promote independent reading. Using a gradual-release model to scaffold instruction helps students to transition from observing the teacher toassuming responsibility of a certain literacy task. Gambrell et al. (2007) suggest with theintegration of a gradual-release scaffolding model, students can take part in more authenticreading tasks such as collaborative learning or literature circles. Scaffolding instruction can be used in a variety of ways. For example, Pearson (2010)conducted a study on using talk features during literature circles to aid students during literaturecircle discussions. These discussions helped them understand what literature circles roles looklike. Pearson (2010) found that when students used purposeful talk during literature circles, ithelped them become collaborative thinkers. Yet, she also found that to transition students frommore exploratory talk, there needs to be more modeling by the teacher as well as additionallessons on how to use talk features. These lessons should be taught over a long period of timeand for students to grasp the concept. Therefore, consistent modeling and scaffolding needs to beoccurring in the classroom to reinforce these strategies. Mills and Jennings (2011) conducted a study to engage students in conversations in aneffort to discuss ways to improve literature circles. Students were asked to reflect on theirliterature circle practices and make observations of other literature circle groups through theviewing of video clips. Students took initiative of their own learning and developed severalstrategies to improve the structure of their group discussions. Mills and Jennings (2011) foundthat students created more productive and intellectual dialogue through these reflectivediscussions. They also point out suggest teacher guidance is essential in showing students how toeffectively improve literature circles by creating more productive and intellectual dialogue.
  9. 9. LITERATURE CIRCLES 9Another important point is that the lessons the students learned throughout this study can beadapted in other content areas such as science or social studies (using reflection to guide theirdiscussion and to make discussions better.) Many teachers may feel the pressures of complying with the local district and statestandards and meeting the educational requirements. Time spent on literacy may be focusedprimarily on standardized testing or specific objectives that need to be taught within a certainamount of time. Many authentic reading tasks such as literature circles may be compromised tomeet these state and local needs. These authentic tasks should be taken in consideration aftermuch research has proven that incorporating meaningful reading activities impacts studentachievement. Therefore, research suggests that teachers should be presented with research-basedpractices for literature circles and given the encouragement to endorse these literacy groupswithin their classroom.Conclusion Incorporating literature circles within a literacy block provides many benefits to teachersand students. Student motivation, interest in reading, effective scaffolding instruction, criticalthinking skills practice, and increased comprehension are all results of a well-planned and wellimplemented literature circle. Although this research is focused on elementary students, it isevident that literature circles are adaptable to many environments such as McCall’s (2010) studywith pre-service teachers using a social studies curriculum. Research has demonstrated throughmany studies that using flexible grouping within the classroom such as literature circles can havea positive correlation on student interest and reading achievement.
  10. 10. LITERATURE CIRCLES 10 Developing literature circles that encourage motivation, student interest, critical thinkingskills, and effective scaffolding are elements may have a positive effect on a student’s overallreading achievement and student interest in reading. A description of the methodological detailsthat support the proposed action research study follows. Methodology This research study was based on a quasi-experimental pretest-posttest design todetermine whether literature circles have an impact on reading comprehension and studentinterest. This study included both a control and treatment group that had already beenrandomized by the elementary school administration at the beginning of the school year. Theaction research study examined how effectively the intervention literature circles impacts thetreatment group by analyzing the results of the pre and post assessments. Both an independent variable and dependent variable were present in this study.The independent variable is the reading instructional format. It is characterized by two levels:traditional instruction and the literature circles instruction. The traditional instruction consistedof the following instructional strategies: self-selected reading and conferencing during the self-selected portion of the literacy block. The literature circles’ instruction consisted of flexibleliterature circle groups which met three to four times a week during the self-selected readingportion of the literacy block. Each self-selected reading block lasted 45 minutes each. Thedependent variable, reading comprehension and student interest, was operationally defined as ascore on the pre and post assessments as well as the pre and post surveys.Participants
  11. 11. LITERATURE CIRCLES 11 The participants in this study ranged in ages from 9 to 11 from two fourth gradeclassrooms in an eastern North Carolina elementary school. Variations in student’s backgroundinclude African American, Caucasian, Hispanic,Asisan and multiracial. The sample sizecomprised of a total of 48 students chosen from two self-contained classrooms. Each classroomconsisted of 24 students. The researcher met withthese two classes once a dayas a result of blockscheduling. The morning group, which was the control group, contained 6 students being served inTitle I reading for reading support and two students with Individualized Education Plans. Thisgroup consisted of 12 females and 12 males with 6 African American students, 12 Caucasianstudents, 5 Hispanic students, and 1 Asian student. The morning group meets from 9:25 to 11:30.Self-selected reading time occurs from 9:25 to 9:55. The afternoon group was chosen for the treatment group since it is the homeroom class ofthe researcher. The afternoon group consists of 14 girls and 10 boys. One of the boys is pulledout for special education resource during the entire literacy block and was unable to participatein the study. In the treatment group, there were 14 Caucasian students, 8 African Americanstudents, 1 Hispanic student, and 1 Multi-Racial student. The afternoon group contains 7 studentsbeing served in Title I reading for reading support and three students with IndividualizedEducation Plans. The afternoon group meets from 11:30-12:05 and from 1:00-2:45. Theliterature circle session will occur from 11:30 to 12:05 and 1:05-1:20.Setting The research was conducted in a suburban eastern North Carolina elementary school.This particular school provides Title I services school-wide grades kindergarten through five. In
  12. 12. LITERATURE CIRCLES 12addition to Title I, other programs offered include ALP 2 Reading Programs, ALP 1 ReadingPrograms, Academically Gifted Program, Q for L Enrichment programs, after school tutoring,and a positive behavior and intervention support (PBIS) program. The school met AdequateYearly Progress goals in 2010 but did not meet AYP (adequate yearly progress) in 2011. Theschool was also recognized as meeting high growth for the ABCs in of Public Education in NorthCarolina to promote school accountability. As a result, this school received the title of “School ofDistinction.”The actual setting for the implementation of literature circles was the researcher’sclassroom and students were familiar with the classroom and materials needed.Data Collection and Analysis Three forms of data sources were used for the triangulation of data. Inquiry data(survey), observational data (researcher log), pre and post tests, and student artifacts werecollected in effort to document changes in student interest in reading and reading comprehension.Data was collected during a six week period with three to fourliterature circle sessions per week.A student interest survey was administered prior to implementation of literature circles in thebeginning of January 2012. McKenna and Kear (1990) provide a tool for measuring student’sattitudes toward reading called “An Elementary Reading Attitude Survey.” Thiswas used at thebeginning and the end of the study to track student interest in reading during the six week period.The survey asked the students specific questions related to their interest in different genres oftext, their feelings about reading assessments, and where they enjoy reading. An example of thissurvey can be found in Appendix A. In addition to the reading interest survey, a pre and post-test was given prior to the studyusing a curriculum based measurement to test reading comprehension in January 2012. The
  13. 13. LITERATURE CIRCLES 13easyCBM test is found on the easyCBM website and can be found in Appendix B. The pre andpost tests were used at the beginning and the end of the study to document changes in readingcomprehension. The averages from tests were measured for data analysis. Student work samples of completed literature circle job tasks were collected and gradedwith the use of a rubric scale to analyze student products for the first two weeks. The results ofthese student work samples will provided the researcher with evidence of student readingcomprehension based on the score. The following weeks, students used their writing journals tomake reflections and create questions related to their book. Extension activities were provided ifstudents finish their independent reading earlier than their classmates. Students were also givenopportunities to take Accelerated Reading quizzes after completion of the book to test theirunderstanding of the book. All of these tasks provided insight into student interest based on theeffort level demonstrated for each literature circle meeting. Lastly, a teacher researcher log was used to track informal observations of studentsduring literature circle sessions. It was also used to track informal student interview questionsabout the literature circle format and discussions. Reflections were recorded on a daily basesbased on the analysis and results of each session.Data Analysis An independent samples t-test was used to compare the difference in the means scores ofthe control group and the treatment group of the reading comprehension assessments. Quantitative data gathered from pre and post testscbm comprehension assessment wasreported, compared, and displayed using a graph or computer-generated report .The themes inthe qualitative data from student interest surveys and the teacher researcher log were analyzed
  14. 14. LITERATURE CIRCLES 14and the results were documented. The researcher log observations and notes were systematicallyanalyzed and coded for themes related to the research question. Lastly, after triangulating data sources, I was able to draw conclusions from the gathereddata and relate it to the research question. Validity was considered when making generalizationsabout the data.Intervention The intervention treatment was implemented during the self-selected reading time in theregular literacy block schedule. The starting datewas January 16th, 2012 andlasted until the endof February 2012 during the week of the 27th. The first week was dedicated to collecting datafrom pre and post assessments, interest surveys, review of expectations, and student choice inbooks. The following five weeks included literature circle sessions that lasted approximately45minutes three to four times per week on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays. Prior to the implementation of the research study in January 2012, students were exposedto the literature circle roles such as Artful Artist, Word Wizard, Discussion Leader, DramaticReenactor, Story Elements Correspondent, and Personal Connector during the month ofDecember 2011 as a whole group (Stein &Beed, 2004). They took turns practicing each role insmall groups to reinforce how each role is appropriately used. This exposure to the rolesprovided background knowledge before the study began to help students transition easily intotheir discussion groups. During the first week in January 2012, students were given a review on literature circleroles and a set of expectations and rules to follow during the sessions. This lasted approximately30 minutes and gave students an opportunity to ask any questions or concerns they had regarding
  15. 15. LITERATURE CIRCLES 15the literature circle format or jobs. They were given their first student interest survey todocument current attitudes towards reading on January 17th. In addition, I shared the list ofbooks students can choose from for their literature circle groups by giving them a briefdescription of the story. The books were chosen from sets of leveled books provided by Title I inthe 2011-2012 school year. I was careful to choose books that contained short chapters thatwould be manageable during the literature circle time frame. Students were asked to choose their3 favorite books and list them in order from most favorite to least favorite on a piece of paper.Based on their feedback, I was able to sort students into groups based on interest, but wasstrategic in placing students in groups where they would be comfortable with the reading level ofthe text. From weeks two through five, students were taking part in the literature circle discussionsthree to four times a week for approximately 45-60 minutes depending on the length of timeneeded to prepare and settle into their groups and the depth of literature circle conversations. Thesessions for the first two weeksincluded time for choosing literature circle roles (3-5 minutes),reading the required text (15-20 minutes), completing the literature circle job (10 minutes), andlastly have a literature circle group discussion (15 minutes). During the 4th week of intervention,jobs were eliminated and journal reflection tasks were introduced to eliminate time wasted forchoosing jobs and having sidebar conversations. The elimination of literature circle jobs provedto be successful the positive student feedback and the increase of pages read bystudents.Therefore, students would spend 1 minute gathering materials, 20-25 minutes readingthe required text while reflecting in their journals, 10 minutes for reflection and extensionactivities, and 10-15 minutes for literature circles discussions.
  16. 16. LITERATURE CIRCLES 16Validity and Reliability or Trustworthiness The types of validity chosen for this study included truth-value validity, outcome validity,and catalytic validity. My focus was on the accuracy of the facts and findings and ability ofenabling the study to increase my understanding of literature circles with the goal oftransforming my teaching practices for the future (Hendricks, 2009). Threats to validity included inaccuracy of data recorded, insufficient credibility, andresearcher bias. In effort to limit inaccuracy of data, I planned on providing sufficient detailwhen recording notes during observation and interviews. The threat of insufficient credibility canbe reduced with the use of triangulating the data sources by using multiple sources including preand post assessments on comprehension, student interest surveys, teacher researcher logs, andgraded student work samples with the use of a rubric. A testing threat may be present whenadministering the pre and post tests since the pre and post tests are the same test. In addressingresearch bias, eliminating any preconceived ideas of biases before implementation of the studyhelps to reduce the threat of biases during the study. Researcher bias may be present due to thefact that the ultimate goal is to show improvements within the intervention group. Peerdebriefing may be a useful strategy when dealing with all three threats of validity in this study.Another threat that is difficult to control is the threat of reliable data of reading comprehensiondue to the short six-week period the study is being conducted. Findings and ResultsPre and Post Test Data In order to analyze the data from the pre and post test scores of the easy-cbmcomprehension assessment, a Del Siegles T-test calculator was used to determine the mean and
  17. 17. LITERATURE CIRCLES 17standard deviation of the control and intervention groups. Calculations can be found in AppendixC: Del Siegles T-test Spreadsheet Calculations. The data provided in Table 1.1 shows thecontrol group’s pretest mean score of 58.54% and posttest mean score of 63.95%. Theintervention group’s pretest mean score was 58.75% and the posttest mean score was 62.50%.Table 1.1:Pretest and Posttest Mean Scores of Control and Intervention Groups. Group N Pre Test Mean Score Post Test Mean Score Group A 24 58.54 63.95 (Control Group) Group B 24 58.75 62.50 (Intervention Group) Because there were an equal number of subjects in each group, the equal variance wasused. The results indicated that the Group Factor was not significant (p= .91479 and was greaterthan p=0.05); therefore, the two groups did not vary significantly on reading comprehensionposttest scores. In order for p-values to be statistically significant, the scores need to be less than.05. Since all the data values presented within the analysis were greater than .05, none of thescores from either class proved to be significantly different. Results can be found in Table 1.2below or in the Del Siegles T-test Spreadsheet Calculations for Reading ComprehensionAssessment located in Appendix C.
  18. 18. LITERATURE CIRCLES 18Table 1.2:Mean and Standard Deviation of Control and Intervention Groups. Group N Mean SD Group A 24 4.16666667 12.8254728 (Control Group) Group B 24 4.58333333 13.9810949 (Intervention Group- Literature Circles)t (46) = 0.107, p=0.91, d= 0.031Survey Data In order to analyze the data from Garfield Elementary Reading Attitude Survey, a DelSiegles T-test calculator was used to determine the mean and standard deviation of the controland intervention groups. Calculations can be found in Appendix D: Del Siegles T-testSpreadsheet Calculations of Reading Interest Survey. The data provided in Table 1.3 shows thecontrol group’s average reading attitude mean score before implementation of 60.91 and readingattitude mean score after implementation of 57.38. The intervention group’s average readingattitude mean score before implementation of 58.33 and reading attitude score mean score afterimplementation of 57.42. There was a decrease for both the control group and intervention groupin both reading attitude scores prior to implementation and to the scores after implementation.The difference of the control group was 3.53 points and the difference between the interventiongroup was 0.91 points.
  19. 19. LITERATURE CIRCLES 19Table 1.3:Survey pre and post Mean Scores between Control and Intervention Groups Group N Survey Prior to Survey After Difference in Implementation: Implementation: Mean Scores Mean Score Mean Score Group A 24 60.91 57.38 3.53(Control Group) Group B 24 58.33 57.42 .91 (Intervention Group)t (46) = 1.21, p=0.23, d= 0.349 Because there were an equal number of subjects in each group, the equal variance wasused. The results indicated that the group factor was not significant (p= .233618 and was greaterthan p=0.05); therefore, the two groups did not vary significantly on the survey results. In orderfor p-values to be statistically significant, the scores need to be less than .05. Since all the datavalues presented within the analysis were greater than .05, none of the scores from either classproved to be significantly different. Results can be found in Table 1.4 below or in the DelSiegles T-test Spreadsheet Calculations for Reading Interest Survey located in Appendix D.Table 1.4:Del Siegle’s T-test calculations for Reading Interest Survey Group N Mean SD
  20. 20. LITERATURE CIRCLES 20 Group A 24 3.54 6.90292419 (Control Group) Group B 24 0.88 8.33699195 (Intervention Group- Literature Circles)Researcher’s Log The researcher observed and took notes from prior to the collection of data to the last daywhen posttests were administered. Elements of the log included specific strategies introduced tostudents, observations of student response to intervention, unexpected happenings, generalreflections, challenges and celebrations, communications between teacher and students orstudents and students, observations of student behaviors or body language, and reflection ofoverall research process. The observations within the control group were consistent. Studentscontinued their daily routine of self-selected reading and conferencing with the teacher as well asparticipating in small guided reading groups during this time. At times, there were some studentsout of their seats getting a drink of water, at the computer taking AR tests, or losing focus andlooking out the window. Most students within the control group did not finish their chapter bookwithin the six week research period. The observations of the intervention group receiving theliterature circle treatment were quite different. Students were able to sit with their literature circlegroups after the second week of implementation and read without distractions (getting water,tissue, etc.). They finished their required chapter and shared their reflections with their groups
  21. 21. LITERATURE CIRCLES 21within the time frame given. All students finished their literature circle book within the six weekperiod of research implementation. Discussion and Conclusions The purpose of this study was to see if literature circles impacted student comprehensionand student interest in reading during a six-week period. Although both groups’ mean scores forcomprehension increased from the pretest to the posttest, the independent t-test did not indicate acorrelation between literature circles and reading comprehension. The quantitative data from thisstudy indicated there was not a significant difference in reading comprehension amongst the twogroups of students. The pretests and posttests were designed to control some of the validitythreats the study. In addition, the analysis results of the independent t-test for the reading interest surveydata was similar to the analysis results of the reading comprehension t-test. It did not indicate acorrelation between literature circles and interest in reading. Although the control group’sattitude decreases slightly more than the intervention group’s attitude toward reading, thequantitative data from this study indicated there was not a significant difference in interest inreading. Thus, the quantitative results of the study do not support literature circles as a strategy toincrease reading comprehension and/or reading interest any more than traditional instruction.Even though the quantitative data does not support the research, Pearson (2010) suggests that ifan educator’s aim is for student’s to be more elaborate and reference the text more often inliterature circles, there would need to be more modeling taught over a longer period of timewhere children can explore both the texts and the responses to them (p.9). Based on the qualitative data collected from this study, the themes and patterns of studentbehaviors and reactions to literature circles provide evidence that it has a positive impact on
  22. 22. LITERATURE CIRCLES 22student reading comprehension and student interest in reading. In the control group, there weresome observations during self-selected reading of students becoming bored, getting out of theirseat to avoid reading or searching for Accelerated Reading tests to take on the computer. In theintervention group, observations included students who were reading without distractions(getting water, looking out the window, etc.), students reflected in their writing journals withquestions, unknown words, and reactions, students shared enthusiastic comments about thechapters read. Notes from the researcher log suggest that students were more motivated to readthe whole chapter within one day when working with a group under a certain time frame.Students in the control group did not have set guidelines or a set time frame to finish a book.Students from the intervention group stated that they felt they accomplished more when workingwithin a small group and felt as if they understand the book better. They were also excited totake Accelerated Reading tests when they finished the book. All the students that tookAccelerated Reading tests on the books they read passed the quizzes. Although the intervention group received the literature circle intervention, it was during ashort period of time of 6 weeks. The literature circle groups took a couple of weeks to adjust tothe format and schedule of the groups even with prior explanation and practice before theresearch process began. Many of these factors could have made an impact on the results of thequantitative data and therefore, the qualitative data should be examined in support of theresearch. Implications and Future Research Although the correlation literature circles and reading comprehension and student interestin reading is weak based on the research presented in this action research project, furtherresearch into the link between literature circles and reading comprehension and interest may help
  23. 23. LITERATURE CIRCLES 23explain what happens when that link is weak. Understanding why a class or student may nothave a positive correlationbetween literature circles and reading comprehension can helpresearchers and teachers design instruction to help those studentscomprehend what they read,which is an ultimate goal of education. In addition, it may be helpful for students to reflect and analyze their literature circlediscussions and group management to make improvements or changes (Mills & Jennings, 2011).With the short time period of 6 weeks, students were not given additional time to reflect on theirpractices and talk about solutions to their disagreements that arose in their groups. Reflection Based on the results of this study and the positive feedback from my students whoreceived the intervention of literature circles, I continued the use of literature circles in myintervention group as well as implementing them with my other class that was previously thecontrol group. In addition, I noticed that requiring students to complete specific jobs duringliterature circles was time consuming and did not provide enough reflection and discussionwithin literature circle groups. For example, a student with the job of a word finder would befocusing on searching for unfamiliar words in the text rather than reading the text for overallmeaning. Changing my literature circle requirements to a more reflective format gave studentsthe opportunity to create questions, connections, etc. during every literature circle meeting. I learned a lot about student motivation as well with the implementation of literaturecircles. They seemed to work harder at finishing their chapter knowing that they were working asa group rather than reading at an independent pace. They were conscious of completing theirreflections in their journal and making sure to create valid questions relating to the text. Thisseemed more genuine then the self-selected reading reflection sheets I provided them previously.
  24. 24. LITERATURE CIRCLES 24Based on the results of the study, the positive feedback from students, and the overall productivefeelings I felt after the implementation of literature circles, I am going to continue using this as apiece of my literacy teaching block. Although I only conducted this in a fourth grade classroom,this could work in various grade levels with the constant modeling and reflection on the literaturecircle discussions. My intention is to use this framework during the course of the year to see theadded benefits of a longer implementation period versus the short six week period I used toconduct this study. It is important to me to share these findings and results with the colleagues at my schooland provide support and feedback to those who would like to implement them during their ownbalanced literacy block.
  25. 25. LITERATURE CIRCLES 25 ReferencesBurns, B. (1998). Changing the classroom climate with literature circles. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 42(2), 124-129.Casey, H. K. (2008). Engaging the disengaged: Using learning clubs to motivate struggling adolescent readers and writers. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 52(4), 284-294. doi:10.1598/JAAL.52.4.2Daniels, H. (1994). Literature circles: Voice and choice in the student-centered classroom. York, Maine: Pembroke Publishers.Day, D., &Ainley, G. (2008). From skeptic to believer: One teacher’s journey implementing literature circles. Reading Horizons, 48(3), 157-176.Retrieved from EBSCOhost.Farris, P. J., Nelson, P. A., &LAllier, S. (2007). Using literature circles with English language learners at the middle level.Middle School Journal, 38(4), 38-42. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.Gambrell, L. B., Ed, Morrow, L. M., Ed, Pressley, M., Ed, & Guthrie, J. T., Ed. (2006).Best practices in literacy instruction. New York:Guilford Publications.Hendricks, C. (2009). Improving schools through action research: A comprehensive guide for educators.(2nd ed.) Upper Saddle River: Merrill.King, C. (2001). "I like group reading because we can share ideas": The role of talk within the literature circle. Reading, 35(1), 32.Retrieved from EBSCOhost.
  26. 26. LITERATURE CIRCLES 26Long, T., & Gove, M. (2003). How engagement strategies and literature circles promote critical response in a fourth-grade, urban classroom. The Reading Teacher, 57(4), 350-361.McCall, A. L. (2010). Teaching powerful social studies ideas through literature circles.Social Studies, 101(4), 152-159. doi:10.1080/00377990903284104.McCormik, S., &Zutell, J. (2011) Instructing students who have literacy problems. Boston, MA: Pearson Education Inc.McKenna, M.C., &Kear, D.J. (1990).Measuring attitude toward reading: A new tool for teachers.The Reading Teacher, 43(8), 626–639. doi: 10.1598/RT.43.8.3Mills, H., & Jennings, L. (2011).Talking about talk: Reclaiming the value and power of literature circles.Reading Teacher, 64(8), 590-598. doi:10.1598/RT.64.8.4Pearson, C. (2010). Acting up or acting out? Unlocking childrens talk in literature circles.Literacy, 44(1), 3-11. doi:10.1111/j.1741-4369.2010.00543.xStien, D. &Beed, P. (2004).Bridging the gap between fiction and nonfiction in the literature circle setting. The Reading Teacher, 57(6), 510-518.
  27. 27. LITERATURE CIRCLES 27 Appendix A Garfield Attitudes Toward Reading Survey
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  33. 33. LITERATURE CIRCLES 33 Appendix B Easy-CBM- “The Magnifying Glass”
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  41. 41. LITERATURE CIRCLES 41 Appendix C Del Siegles T-test Spreadsheet Calculations for Reading Comprehension Assessment Value used for Group 1 ------------------> 1 This speadsheet was prepared by Del Siegle for use in EPSY 341 Value used for Group 2 ------------------> 2 Note: The df for the Unequal Variance Independent t-test is an approximation. p of F-Max--> 0.68251938 Effect Size Independent t-test Use Equal Variance d= Equal Unequal 0.03108691 No Control Group Variance Variance 0.03248743 Control Group is Group 1 Group 1 Group 2 Mean diff. -0.41666667 -0.41666667 0.02980215 Control Group is Group 2 Mean 4.16666667 4.58333333 SE 3.87278844 3.87278844 SD 12.8254728 13.9810949 t-value -0.10758828 -0.10758828 n 24 24 df 46 23 two-tailed p 0.91479019 0.91479364 Paired t-test Correlation-> The scores are not paired. 1 Group 1 Group 2 Mean diff. The scores are not paired. 1 Mean N/A N/A SE The scores are not paired. 2 SD N/A N/A t-value The scores are not paired. n 48 0 df The scores are not paired. two-tailed p The scores are not paired. Group (IV) DV 2nd DV if calculating a paired (correlated) t-test 1 5 5 1 0 0 1 -20 -20 1 -15 -15 1 30 30 1 15 15 1 5 5 1 -15 -15 1 -5 -5 1 5 5 1 -5 -5 1 10 10 1 5 5 1 20 20 1 0 0 1 20 20 1 30 30 1 10 10 1 10 10 1 5 5 1 0 0 1 -5 -5 1 0 0 1 -5 -5 2 5 5 2 0 0 2 25 25 2 10 10 2 15 15 2 0 0 2 15 15 2 0 0 2 -10 -10 2 -5 -5 2 10 10 2 -5 -5 2 30 30 2 -10 -10 2 -30 -30 2 5 5 2 5 5 2 -15 -15 2 20 20 2 15 15 2 -10 -10 2 15 15 2 5 5 2 20 20
  42. 42. LITERATURE CIRCLES 42 Appendix D Del Siegles T-test Spreadsheet Calculations for Reading Interest Survey Value used for Group 1 ------------------> 1 This speadsheet was prepared by Del Siegle for use in EPSY 341 Value used for Group 2 ------------------> 2 Note: The df for the Unequal Variance Independent t-test is an approximation. p of F-Max--> 0.37193387 Effect Size Independent t-test Use Equal Variance d= Equal Unequal 0.34995818 No Control Group Variance Variance 0.38630971 Control Group is Group 1 Group 1 Group 2 Mean diff. -2.66666667 -2.66666667 0.31985957 Control Group is Group 2 Mean -3.54166667 -0.875 SE 2.20940977 2.20940977 SD 6.90292419 8.33699195 t-value -1.20695884 -1.20695884 n 24 24 df 46 23 two-tailed p 0.23361811 0.23383151 Paired t-test Correlation-> The scores are not paired. 1 Group 1 Group 2 Mean diff. The scores are not paired. 1 Mean N/A N/A SE The scores are not paired. 2 SD N/A N/A t-value The scores are not paired. n 48 0 df The scores are not paired. two-tailed p The scores are not paired. Group (IV) DV 2nd DV if calculating a paired (correlated) t-test 1 0 0 1 -7 -7 1 0 0 1 -16 -16 1 -3 -3 1 -8 -8 1 2 2 1 -7 -7 1 -9 -9 1 5 5 1 -11 -11 1 -18 -18 1 -7 -7 1 1 1 1 -5 -5 1 10 10 1 3 3 1 -5 -5 1 -8 -8 1 3 3 1 -2 -2 1 -7 -7 1 -4 -4 1 8 8 2 4 4 2 -5 -5 2 -8 -8 2 -3 -3 2 3 3 2 -10 -10 2 15 15 2 4 4 2 2 2 2 -4 -4 2 22 22 2 -3 -3 2 -5 -5 2 -9 -9 2 -1 -1 2 -15 -15 2 13 13 2 -7 -7 2 -2 -2 2 -8 -8 2 1 1 2 -4 -4 2 1 1 2 -2 -2
  43. 43. LITERATURE CIRCLES 43 Appendix E IRB completion Report CITICollaborative Institutional Training Initiative Human Research Curriculum Completion Report Printed on 9/10/2011 Learner: Hilary Manzone (username: greenhi10) Institution: East Carolina University Contact Information Department: MaED in Reading Phone: 919-600-4047 Email: greenhi10@students.ecu.edu Group 2.Social / Behavorial Research Investigators and Key Personnel: Stage 2. Refresher Course Passed on 09/10/11 (Ref # 6585835) Date Complete Required Modules d Refresher Course 101 Introduction 08/30/11 no quiz SBR 101 REFRESHER MODULE 1 - History and Ethics 08/30/11 4/5 (80%) SBR 101 REFRESHER MODULE 2 - Regulatory Overview 09/07/11 4/5 (80%) SBR 101 REFRESHER MODULE 3 - Risk, Informed Consent, 09/07/11 5/5 (100%) and Privacy and Confidentiality SBR 101 REFRESHER MODULE 4 - Vulnerable Subjects 09/10/11 3/4 (75%) SBR 101 REFRESHER MODULE 5 - Education, International, 09/10/11 4/5 (80%) and Internet Research How to Complete The CITI Refresher Course and Receive the 09/10/11 no quiz Completion Report For this Completion Report to be valid, the learner listed above must be affiliated with a CITI participating institution. Falsified information and unauthorized use of the CITI course site is unethical, and may be
  44. 44. LITERATURE CIRCLES 44 considered scientific misconduct by your institution. Paul Braunschweiger Ph.D. Professor, University of Miami Director Office of Research Education CITI Course Coordinator Return

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